National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has described as needless the opposition of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to the closure of universities for the forthcoming general elections.
In a statement, Vice President of NANS External Affairs, Akinteye Afeez, said the claim by the union that it was only the management of the universities that could declare holidays could not hold water.
NANS said the union ought to appreciate the gesture of the government instead of opposing the closure, which it said would allow many students cast their votes during the polls.
The association however urged students whose polling units are located on campuses to stay back and vote, while appealing to them to conduct themselves in the most polite manner during the electioneering period.
“I personally expect the ASUU chairman to appreciate the kind gesture of the honourable minster in making it compulsory for every university to allow their students the opportunity to perform their civic responsibility in electing the next set of leaders in the country. This is because many of these universities are not under ASUU, even some that are under ASUU may not comply if ASUU declares such break.
“So, it is worthy of appreciation to see the minster help ASUU to do this job in it’s simplest form. Also, for ASUU to say that these universities should be left to take their decisions is selfish and bias because we all know that most universities these days are so business minded to the point that they are not even concerned about the general welfare of the Nigerian students under their watch let alone allowing them the opportunity to vote on the days of the elections.
“Making special provisions by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the students to vote will not be legally possible according to Section 47 of the Electoral Act 2022 that makes it mandatory for an intending voter to present himself/herself with his/her Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to a Presiding Officer for accreditation at the Polling Unit in the Constituency in which his/her name is registered. The students would have to go to wherever they collected their PVCs to vote if the would have to. INEC cannot bring their polling units to their various campuses. “There’s no legal provision for that. Let’s not forget that during the last voters registration exercise, university students were in their various homes due to the prolonged ASUU strike and this brought about the over 3.8million students who registered newly for their PVCs. Should these ones not be allowed to go back to their constituencies to vote? Should they be disenfranchised?
“The directive from the honourable minister is a right move in the right direction and the Nigerian students are happy that our collective voices are heard and honoured. If not for this directive, many universities including FUTMINNA and UNIOSUN have exams until Friday, Feb. 24th, 2023, a day before election. Hence they would have stayed back and forget about voting. How will it be easy/possible for such student to vote? We want to appreciate our Minister of Education once again and also appeal to ASUU to bury her ego and appreciate him as well for giving the Nigerian students the right to exercise our civic duties.
We hereby implore students who have their polling units on their campuses to stay back and vote as they conduct themselves in the most polite manner and we enjoin those travelling to their constituencies to vote to do so with every sense of civility as we place our patriotism higher than our personal interests or those of some selfish leaders who may try to use us for their selfish interests.”